We must never forget the inhumanity suffered from Spain - and ensure new generations don’t either

Carmen Gomez

Promises may come and go; but in the bitter sweet message delivered by our Chief Minister on stage at Europa Point on Monday evening; before the commencement of one of the most beautiful and magical of nights Gibraltar has had the pleasure of experiencing of late; i.e. the Andrea Bocelli concert; I felt we should all of us, want to make the promise of never forgetting what the evening of such exquisite artistry was marking, which was our fifty years since the closure of the frontier. 

Naturally it goes without saying that those of us who lived through such infamy and inhumanity as that inflicted upon this noble people, will never forget; but we must ensure future generations won’t either.

Why? Because in remembering, we will ensure we do not ever allow ourselves to fall victim to any olive branch offered us, by a country whose supposed democratic status still suckles the fruits of a past dictatorial regime, with all its consequences; the stuff of past glories born out of conflict, which are so ingrained in their persona that they will never be able to shake off.


When we speak of promises we envisage many different scenarios. We well remember as children being told off for having done something wrong and our promise never to do it again. We also recall having broken that and other promises made, because as time went by we would forget having made them. If truth be told, society’s biggest problem of all has been and still is its inability to learn from history and its collective amnesia.

It happens in politics too. Tony Blair back in 2004 promised Parliament a referendum on whether Britain should ratify the new EU constitution; that never happened. David Cameron made a string of pledges which were never realized. Then again you cannot sue politicians for breaking their election promises.

Sometimes though, it’s a question of matters beyond one’s control; as in the case of Lyndon B. Johnson, who promised in 1964 “we are not about to send American boys nine or ten miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.” Yet during his presidency, the US entered the Vietnam War; or Woodrow Wilson who campaigned on the promise of a slogan “he kept us out of war;” only to later call on Congress to declare war on Germany.

It has to be said however, that on this occasion, he helped negotiate a peace treaty that included a plan for the League of Nations; which was meant to maintain world peace and which represented a fundamental shift from the preceding hundred years. It brought with it a great many good things, but the onset of the Second World War brought about its failure.

The promise of 1989 was meant to be a time when the world was full of hope that finally democracy freedom and a global order based on peace and responsibility would prevail; a time when the people tallied against governments with dismal human rights record and a lack of respect for the rule of law.


Yet today this too has failed due to the inability of political leaders to face many of the challenges which come their way, be that in the field of climate change; the growing gap between winners and losers of an overly bureaucratic political system which is unresponsive to the needs of the people; maintaining and nurturing the seeds of democracy.

The problem being that there are countries like Spain which have turned to democracy simply as a means to an end and in this case it will never truly flourish. As in the case of Hong Kong where they know that despite any resignation of the present chief executive, whoever comes next will me moulded in the same method and will be of the same ideology, so they will be faced with the same problems time and time again.

We live in a world where our values are rapidly changing. It’s hard to keep up and sometimes I wonder if we should not just say “Enough; no more;” and when that moment comes, make a conscious decision not to keep accepting the new, if it does not sit right; otherwise we stand to lose our sense of direction. All this prevaricating from UK politicians when asked pointed questions as we witnessed from some of our visiting MPs on National Day; all this talk and debate which can be totally engrossing, at the end of the day leads us nowhere.


There are people playing what appear to be dangerous games with our futures and yet we must not allow ourselves to be caught up in all this. It is my belief that we must detach ourselves from it as much as possible, as it is frankly speaking, beyond our control. We are a small cog in a mighty wheel and it is unrealistic of us to think for one moment, that we should take preference to the interests of an entire UK nation for whom and because of whom all this is being played out. We don’t have to rely on promises made; we rely on facts.

As the Chief Minister said in his GBC interview during the day’s festivities, we must remain positive and not get bogged down by the apparent gloom and doom that tends to be the staple diet these days on our news media.

The scene is set as far as we are concerned. All the preparation possible has been taken care of and now it’s up to each and every one of us to meet the challenges going forward. Should we have to tighten our belts at any time we should be ready to do so. We have had it so good for such a long time that perhaps we may have become complacent.

If there are changes to come let’s face them head on as we have done in the past; with unity of effort and resilience. To do otherwise would be to disown what those who came before us fought to achieve.